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Also called "Computing, Ethics, and Society 1 - Foundations"

  • Course Type: Breadth
  • Specialization: Computing, Ethics, and Society
  • Instructor: Dr. Bobby Schnabel, Professor of Computer Science, Department External Chair 
  • Prior knowledge needed: TBD

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Learning Outcomes

  • Reflect on the context for why ethical issues have become a crucial part of computer science.
  • Describe the core principles and ideas behind Kantianism, Virtue Ethics, Utilitarianism, and Social Contract Theory.
  • Apply ethical frameworks to analyze real-life scenarios related to computing and technology.

Course Content

Duration: 6 hours

In this introductory week, you will delve into the fascinating world of computing, ethics, and society. You will explore the fundamental concepts of ethics and ethical frameworks, providing a solid foundation for the entire course. You will gain insights into key ethical theories, including Kantianism, Virtue Ethics, Utilitarianism, and Social Contract Theory. Through interactive discussions and engaging resources, you will understand how these theories shape our moral decision-making processes and their significance in the context of computing technologies.

Duration: 5 hours

This week explores the internet's evolution and the ethical challenges of recommender systems and internet advertising. You examine recommender systems' operation, benefits, and ethical concerns, and broader issues in internet advertising such as personalized advertising and data usage on browsers and social media platforms. Through discussions and independent assessment of current articles, you will critically assess the ethics of online recommendations and advertising, gaining a comprehensive understanding of ethical considerations related to core aspects of the internet.

Duration: 8 hours

This week explores two key areas related to the internet: the influence of social media on youth and the widespread issue of misinformation in different contexts. You will analyze ethical responsibilities related to fostering a healthy digital environment and understanding and combating misinformation. This week aims to equip you with the knowledge and insights needed to contribute to the creation of a responsible online environment, and to a society that is better informed about major internet-related ethical issues.

Duration: 9 hours

This week delves into the concepts of computer privacy and security. You will explore privacy issues such as data collection, tracking, and anonymity, alongside legal approaches to safeguarding privacy such as the “Right to be Forgotten”. The module also covers security topics including types of security breaches, ransomware, and ethical hacking. By the end of this week, you will have a broad understanding of computer privacy and security, equipped with ethical insights to navigate this dynamic landscape responsibly.

Duration: 2.5 hours

This module contains materials for the final exam. If you've upgraded to the for-credit version of this course, please make sure you review the additional for-credit materials in the introductory module and anywhere else they may be found.


  • Cross-listed Courses: Courses that are offered under two or more programs. Considered equivalent when evaluating progress toward degree requirements. You may not earn credit for more than one version of a cross-listed course.
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